Episode 1 of Copenhagen Cowboy opens with the camera panning a line of pigs through a slaughterhouse. It is against a background of two figures, one male and one female. The man chokes the woman and makes it difficult for her to breathe.
Copenhagen Cowboy Season 1 Episode No 1 Recap
This opening leads to a young woman named Miu, who is invited to Rosella’s house, accompanied by a whole gang of women. They fuss over him and keep touching him. He is then shown to his room and given a list of things to do.
Rosella’s greatest wish is to have children. At his age, he knows his chances are slim. However, he needs it to happen sooner and offers to pay Miu 10,000 crowns if she gets pregnant. Apparently that’s the whole reason Miu is actually here because she apparently has spiritual powers.
Another character introduced is Andre, Rosella’s brother. He’s a shady character, doesn’t trust people like Miu with his ‘gift’, and in a separate scene we see him picking up ordinary women in a seedy club. This happens to be one of Andre’s “puppets” that he uses to market his company.
This Miu character is pretty weird, as we get to see her making weird facial expressions and walking around the house, tripping over couches, and doing some kind of personal ritual that only she knows about. In the basement are a group of women who are part of Andre’s club and are being used as prostitutes. They are in their own personal hell after doing all kinds of bad things after Miu’s position as Rosella’s personal assistant. They act as a warning of what could happen to Miu if she’s not careful.
Miu is forced to sit while Sven and Rosella have love, although we’ve seen earlier that Sven isn’t being faithful to his wife, considering he went over one of the girls in the basement. Now these women are undocumented immigrants from various parts of Eastern Europe, and we meet Cimona as she collects her passport at the border. Now he’s forced to work with Andre to get her back.
Miu sits with Rosella at breakfast. Although the contract is for 10,000 kroner, Rosella realizes that she is actually pregnant and changes the contract to 8,000, considering the ease with which this can happen.
Andre walks in and immediately smacks Sven over the head, taunting him and beating him up for sleeping with “Andre’s girls”. Andre also reveals that Sven owes him 15,000. Is it Miu? Did he influence Andre to beat Sven?
Regardless, it’s clear these poor women are stuck in Andre’s oppressive, slimy grip, and they’re desperate to get out. It’s a risky business and they have to find the right time to go.
That night, Rosella wakes up to find herself covered in blood. It looks like she’s not pregnant, and in fact she still decides to move Miu to the basement in her underwear. The hierarchy here is very different, and it looks like Miu is about to experience the hell she’s been protected from until now. Miu hasn’t been taken to Andre’s club with the other girls, at least not yet.
As the episode ends, we cut to the slaughterhouse where Miu’s friend, Cimona, is trying to escape. Unfortunately, he is strangled to death by a shadowy character named Nicklas, which explains the scene from the beginning of the series.
Copenhagen Cowboy is undeniably well produced. It’s artistic, aesthetically stunning, and has a really impressive range of camera pans that feed the whole arthouse style of this Danish series. But when it comes to the story, it’s still not out of the pitfalls. It’s a quiet, calm episode that takes its sweet time introducing Miu and the other characters. We’re drip-fed exposure and yet there’s not much in the way of development.
I hope things pick up in future episodes because it definitely has potential. Whether this will translate into something more sustainable is another matter.